Has Social Media Replaced Content as King?

Posted by Charles on August 20th, 2008

Social Media the New King?

Image by nene9

Content is king. That’s what’s been said almost since the birth of the internet. It is logical. After all – why would anyone visit your site unless there’s content there worth checking out?

However, there’s always been one major problem with the content as king argument. Any blogger starting out will recognise this problem. New bloggers often produce great content - they have the king - yet the visitors simply don’t follow. No one knows about these new bloggers. They just don’t have the visibility.

Content without visibility is like a king without an empire. What the content is king argument has always meant is that content with promotion is king. Develop a great piece of content, promote it, and people will respond.

The usual promotion techniques would include pitching your content to bloggers, paying for reviews through a service such as ReviewMe, PPC ads, and so on.

These promotion techniques cost money and as a result could only be used to ‘light the fire’. Only truly great content would develop into a blaze.

Social media however has changed the game. There’s huge scope for mediocre content to gain visibility… if you are or know a power user you’re almost there. Social media sites are in effect cliques. They are dominated by a small powerful user base. Build relationships with power users or become one yourself and you’re in the club. For proof look no further than Digg - 31% of their homepage is submitted by 10 users.

Social media has changed the game. With a strong presence in social news sites ‘great content’ is no longer needed. Mediocre is enough.

I’m fairly active over at Mixx and notice this ‘power user’ effect all the time. Many of the articles which go hot are average articles - the person submitting the article matters more than what it actually says. What’s more, you often see articles from same sites going hot time and time again. Once people recognise your site they are increasingly likely to vote for you, often with blind voting. A snowball effect develops which works almost independently from the quality of your articles.

What do you think? Has social media replaced content as king or is exceptional content still the driving force?

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3 Responses to “Has Social Media Replaced Content as King?”

  1. SilentJay74 Says:

    Hello Charles,
    Interesting article but I have to say that YES content is still King. I to am heavily active at Mixx.com and have noticed some blind voting. This blind voting causes, like you said, some questionable articles to hit the front page. Some other Super Mixxers and Senior Mixxers started working with Mixx to control this. A while back we had launched a campaign over at Mixxingbowl.com to get POPurls to carry Mixx feed. After they did that the abusers poured out of the wood work, and it showed on POPurls. People, myself included, do not like going to a Social Media site and seeing that everyones popular submissions are someones blog, about blog marketing, blogs. We want actually GOOD content. That other stuff should be saved for communities on Mixx or MIxx Groups, not public IMO. But YES Charles, to most of us Power Users Content remains King.
    Take Care,
    Jay

  2. Bob Robertson-Boyd Says:

    Content is still king. But the larger point is that people are content. Always have been.

    When we walked the mall in high school, we went where the people were. The stores were just a pretext. Both were ‘content’ but the experience we had was due solely to the people. We could have shopped anywhere, but we choose to shop where we’d have people to see and to be seen by.

    Biz 2.0 asked the same question in 2006 and I had the same answer then. We are the content. But that doesn’t make us kings.

    Kinda reminds me of Yogi Berra “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.” (accuracy questionable)

  3. Charles Says:

    Great comments guys.

    Jay - I’ve noticed that on the ‘MixxFriends’ tab you now have to click on each post before voting for it. I’m assuming that this is one of the attempts to limit blind voting and perhaps limit the power of those users with huge friends lists?

    Overall I think I agree with both of you - content remains king, particularly in the long term, but social media can be an excellent avenue for sites that produce mediocre content to achieve high visibility.

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